Subject: Winged beasty
Location: Newark, Delaware
March 21, 2015 10:20 am
Hi,
Can you help to identify this strange-looking creature? I spotted this little guy about 5 months ago around October. He was walking along a lumber pile at the lumber yard I work at. The lumber yard backs right up to a wooded area that is part of a state park on the banks of the Christina river. Thanks!
Signature: amateur entomologist

Scorpionfly

Scorpionfly

Dear amateur entomologist,
Your stange beastie is a Scorpionfly in the genus
Panorpa.  According to BugGuide, they are generally found on:  “low shrubs and ground cover in densely-vegetated woodlands, often near water or wet seeps; grasslands; cultivated fields; forest borders adults are usually seen resting on leaves in shaded areas less than a metre from the ground.”  They are harmless creatures and according to BugGuide:  “Adults feed mainly on dead/dying insects, rarely on nectar/fruit:  Larvae scavenge on decaying organic matter or dead insects; may prey on soil insects.”

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Subject: which owlet moth species pollinate witch hazel?
March 18, 2015 8:30 am
Hello WTB
In doing some research on witch hazel,  I found that the pollinators are  specie(s) of owlet moths. Dr Bernd Heinrich found that these moths were the pollinators and had the ability  to thermo-regulate by shivering, enabling them to be active during the cold season when our native witch hazels bloom. I also read that these moths have a dense body pile, which insulates them. What a great story this is! I wanted to include a picture of one of these moths in my article about witch hazel. Could you tell me which specie(s) of moth these might be? I am assuming Dr Heinrich did the research in Maine or somewhere in New England where he is based. Also, would someone be willing to let me publish a/their picture of the moth in question for my article? (I would of course attribute the photographer and use a copyright symbol with it.) I write a monthly column on native plants for wildlife for my birding club, The Capital Area Audubon Society in Lansing, MI.
Thanks for any help, and for considering my photo request.
Ann Hancock
Co Editor, The Call Note
Lansing, Michigan
Signature: Ann Hancock

Dear Ann,
We are not certain which species of Owlet Moth pollinates Witch Hazel, but we will post your request and try to do some research.  We have found a reference to Winter Moth on the Venerable Trees site.

Daniel
Thank you so much. The whole Owlet Moth, and flying in the cold season is a gee-whiz story to me.
I appreciate your help and hope that someone will know the answer.
If we get a reply and/or a picture I will post an update in next month’s column.
AMH

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Subject: What is it?
Location: San Diego, CA
March 18, 2015 9:45 pm
Found this in our kitchen tonight. Six year old is studying insects in science now and doing a report on dragonflies. Curious what this critter is.
Signature: The Duncans

Whitelined Sphinx

Whitelined Sphinx

Dear Duncans,
Alas your child cannot use these images to illustrate a report on Dragonflies as it is a Sphinx Moth, more specifically a Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata.  Like dragonflies, Whitelined Sphinx Moths are very aerodynamic in flight and they are often mistaken for hummingbirds.  Whitelined Sphinx Moths are currently flying in Southern California.  This is a species that periodically experiences population explosions that tend to coincide with years when there is lush desert growth.  The rain patter this winter, though we are still firmly entrenched in a drought, was so wide spread that it was conducive to a lush desert growth, and we expect it to be a big year for both Caterpillars and adult Whitelined Sphinx Moth.

Whitelined Sphinx

Whitelined Sphinx

Thanks so much for the info.  My daughter was excited to read your email.  We didn’t really think it was a dragonfly, but have had insects on the brain.  We appreciate your work!
Kristin

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Subject: Bug ID Help
Location: Clearwater Florida
March 20, 2015 8:11 am
This bug was on my shirt after a walk through the park in Florida. He stayed on my shirt until I got home and I was able to lift him off onto a paper towel. After several photos he fly away. Please help me ID.
Signature: Thanks, Eric C.

Oak Treehopper

Oak Treehopper

Dear Eric,
This distinctive insect is an Oak Treehopper,
Platycotis vittata, so we are guessing that the park you were visiting contained Oak Trees.

Oak Treehopper

Oak Treehopper

Thanks so much for the information. Very interesting. Yes we have Live Oak all around us!

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Subject: Spider ID
Location: Salisbury NC
March 20, 2015 11:20 am
Hi,
I have been trying to ID this spider without any luck.
This was taken in Salisbury NC. in Sept 2014.
This was the only picture I could get because it was a fast spider, and was gone in a few seconds.
Thanks for any help.
Signature: David

Wolf Spider

Wolf Spider

Dear David,
This looks like some species of Wolf Spider to us based on the eye arrangement.  You can see a nice image of the eye pattern of a Wolf Spider on Animals Time where it states:  “Wolf spiders do not spin webs. They are known to run very fast. Wolf spiders usually hunt at night.” 

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Subject: What is this bug? Butterfly and wasp look a like.
Location: Southern California
March 21, 2015 1:46 am
I was doing laundry when I found this bug dead on the ground next to the machine. I’ve never seen one before. It had a butterfly like mouth that was swirly, but it had a big long wasp like torso, but more brown. Its wings were also more like a wasps. This was in southern California. Help appreciated!
Signature: Wanderers Friend

Sphinx Moth

Sphinx Moth

Dear Wanderers Friend,
All we can say for certain is that this is a moth in the family Sphingidae.  All the wing and body scales have been removed, making identification from an image rather impossible, leading us to believe this Sphinx Moth may have been washed with a load of laundry.  Whitelined Sphinx Moth are currently quite plentiful on the wing in Southern California, so that is a very good candidate for an identity.

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